Drum on Dunning-Kruger

In a postscript to an item on Giuliani’s lack of foreign policy expertise, and Giuliani’s simultaneous belief that he alone is competent to handle the demands of 21st-century foreign policy, Kevin Drum offers the following interesting aside (from Commander in Chief):

By the way, the academic name for this is the Dunning-Kruger Effect [PDF download]. Impress your friends by knowing this! Dunning and Kruger, in a famous series of tests, found that “Incompetent individuals, compared with their more competent peers, will dramatically overestimate their ability and performance relative to objective criteria.” Also: “They will be less able than their more competent peers to recognize competence when they see it – be it their own or anyone else’s.”

I tend to view Bush’s pattern of behavior as willful disregard, an intentional act of denigrating real competence due to his own emotional need to deny his inadequacy. But I guess it could just as easily, or more easily, be explained as a completely unconscious process on his part. He might really just believe that he’s competent, and that the toadies he hires based on their willingness to accept and repeat that fiction are also competent. Which doesn’t really change anything in a fundamental way; he’s still an incredible doofus, and a menace to the country as long as he and the people he empowers retain their authority. But the realization might be helpful to me in getting past being really, really pissed off at the guy.

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